Since being launched in July 2006, Twitter has become one of today's most important social media sites. With a value of $5 billion and climbing, it's easy to see why so many businesses want to get in on the action. After all, millions of people have Twitter accounts. Is it worth it for a business to become active on Twitter? Does this social media platform only work for certain types of businesses? Read on to learn more.
Key Benefits of Twitter for Businesses
It may have taken a little while for many businesses to catch on, but it's now more common for a company to have a Twitter account than to not have one. There are plenty of benefits for companies to enjoy by participating in Twitter. Through this popular social media site, a company can stay in touch with existing customers and address concerns or issues they may have. A company can also suggest new ideas to its Twitter audience to see how receptive it is to them. Twitter also presents yet another way for a company to draw in new customers. The biggest perk of all is simply having the ability to see what people are saying about a company without having to actively survey them.
There really aren't many drawbacks involved in being active on Twitter. A company should take care to give control of its Twitter account to someone who is skilled in public relations and in social media. In the wrong hands, a Twitter account can create problems. Another potential drawback is simply being unaware of the benefits of Twitter or being unable to make the most of the service. Many companies give up before they give the site a reasonable shot.
Generating Traffic through Twitter
Many businesses use Twitter to post links to various pages on their websites. This social media platform is perfect for that kind of thing. Incoming links can bolster a site's ranking with the major search engines, so it's especially advantageous to post links on Twitter. In terms of the kind of audience that can be reached, the sky's the limit. Everyone from high school kids to retirees is active on Twitter. The site has a nifty search function that makes it easy to narrow things down according to a number of different criteria. If a link is good enough, it could be retweeted from one person to another and generate even more buzz and traffic.
The Ten Best Ways to Use Twitter
There are plenty of great strategies that a company can use to make the most of Twitter. Here are ten of the best ones:
- Include a live stream of your company's Twitter feed on its main site. The National Archives does it in a way that enhances its site and makes it more interactive.
- Keep your finger on the pulse of public sentiment. You can set up saved searches or RSS feeds that alert you to comments about your company and its products or services.
- Use Twitter to connect with other people within your industry. When used properly, it can be a very effective networking tool.
- Spread the word about upcoming sales and other events by tweeting about them. It only takes a second to post a tweet, and it makes it easy to reach out to a much larger audience.
- When a customer tweets about an issue that he's having with your company, take the time to respond and see what you can do. Customers are generally impressed with companies take the time to listen to them on Twitter.
- Don't strictly post links to your own website. Make a point of posting links to interesting sites and stories that relate to your industry.
- If you have an idea for a new product or service, tweet about it to see what people have to say. You could save yourself a lot of time if the idea doesn't appeal to people.
- Poll your audience to find out if they have any suggestions about your company's products and services. You may be surprised by the small, simple changes that you can make to improve customer satisfaction.
- Acknowledge kind comments about your company through Twitter. If someone tweets about how happy they are with your products and services, retweet their message to thank them.
- When a trending topic that relates to your industry pops up, make sure to capitalize on it. Post your own thoughts and opinions on the topic to get new conversations started.
Companies that Do Twitter Right
Compared with even a year ago, there are more companies using Twitter effectively than ever. DIRECTV, for example, uses the social media site to keep followers informed about new features and programming options. Wachovia, which is considered to be a rather stodgy company, routinely surprises people by responding to complaints through the site. JetBlue has been using Twitter effectively for some time and uses the site to listen to what its customers have to say.
Will it Last?
As with anything on the Internet, there's no way to know for sure whether Twitter will last. As of right now, however, all signs indicate that it has staying power. The site is free and easy to use, and it provides many very significant benefits for businesses of all size. It is also very compatible with mobile devices, so its audience keeps grower larger. As more everyday people discover how easy it is to connect with their favorite companies and brands through the site, participation on the site is sure to increase even more. If you own a business, there has never been a better time to get active on Twitter. The site is likely to be around for a long time to come.